Gambia — The Niani District Tribunal Court in Kuntaur, presided over by the district chief Alh. Pierre Bah, on Wednesday, December 18, fined five Alkalolu for not being able to find the culprit(s) of a fire outbreak in the forest.
Each Alkalo is fined two thousand five hundred Dalasis (D2, 500). They include: Eleman Njie of Dockeh, Ngaga Nyang of Genteh Burr, Muhtarr Dem of Majumba, Momodou Jallow of Sare Mudu and Haruna Dem of Sinchu Madina, all in Niani District in the Central River Region north. They all pleaded guilty and during their plea for mercy, begged for leniency as they are first time offenders and have large families. According to the regional forestry officer of CRR north, Pa Demba Sigi Jeng, on the 9th of December 2013 there was a fire outbreak in the forest adjacent to the villages of Dockeh, Genteh Burr, Majumba, Sare Mudu and Sinchu Madina. Jeng pointed out that when they received the information they went to the scene and could not discover the culprit (s) and as a result the said alkalolu would face the penalty.
He spoke at length on the importance of protecting the forest against bush fires and other illegal activities, adding that managing the natural forest resources should be a concern to every citizen. He lamented that the forests of the Gambia have been degrading and reduced during the last century due to large scale destruction through bushfires, exploitation of forest resources and conversion of forests into farmland.
Delivering his judgment, the district chief Alh. Pierre Bah reminded the people, especially the communities of Niani about the importance of environmental protection especially forests against bushfires and other illegal activities. He thus spoke extensively on the importance of the forest, citing that most of the rural dwellers depend heavily on the forest as construction materials. He added that frequent bushfires have destroyed the forest resources and then challenged every citizen especially those in Niani to actively participate in the protection of the forest.
Bah stressed that whenever there is fire outbreak in the forest all the villagers adjacent to the forest should participate in putting the fire under control.